“They went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, ‘Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry… So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.’ And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” Acts 1:13-17,21-26
Returning from the Mount of Olives where they had just seen their risen Christ ascend to heaven, the remaining eleven apostles, along with others, including Jesus’s siblings, gathered for prayer. What did this all mean? How should they process the recent happenings and how were they to move forward? It strikes me that they hid themselves away together and did not chat it up, pooling their ignorance or speculation or opinions, did not try to figure the most advantageous spin on events for social media, but prayed.
They devoted themselves to prayer. They wrestled, asked, listened, with one voice, knit together in Spirit, sought wisdom and understanding, and God answered, marvelously. He brought to mind the passages of Scripture recent events had fulfilled. He shed light on Judas’s betrayal. He reminded them of Jesus’s instructions to go out two by two. They received His insight and moved to the next step. (Psalm 41:9; 69:25; 109:8; Zechariah 11:12-13; Mark 6:7)
Peter announced that they would need to replace Judas among their twelve, and gave the qualifications needed. Once again, they prayed, this time over their identified potential recruits. And once again, mighty God answered. He heard their plea for clear guidance and orchestrated the resulting lot to land on Matthias, who then joined their ministry of establishing churches in Jesus’s name all over the known world.
The Lord not only welcomes our earnest prayer, He beckons us come. Our time of worship, of surrender and dependence, avails much; He replies in gracious, bountiful ways according to our needs, His truth, and His good will. (Psalm 3:4; Jeremiah 29:13; James 5:16)
Oh God, my Shepherd, may my first response in every situation be to look up to You. Keep me devoted to prayer, and fully devoted to You.